Kamala Harris Stumps Brett Kavanaugh with Abortion Question

Senator Kamala Harris forced Brett Kavanaugh to admit he doesn't know of any laws that legislate men's bodies.

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Sep 6 2018, 3:11pm

Chip Somodevilla for Getty Images

California Senator Kamala Harris backed Brett Kavanaugh into a corner Wednesday night, when she asked him a straightforward question about abortion.

"Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?" Harris asked Kavanaugh.

"Um, I'm happy to answer a more specific question," he responded.

"Male versus female," Harris clarified.

"There are medical procedures?"

"That the government has the power to make a decision about a man's body?"

"I thought you were asking about medical procedures that are unique to men," Kavanaugh said.

Smiling, Harris offers to repeat her original question, getting Kavanaugh to finally admit: "I'm not thinking of any right now, Senator."

The exchange followed a line of questioning about Roe v. Wade, challenging Kavanaugh on his use of the so-called "Ginsburg Rule" to sidestep inquiries about his stance on abortion rights.

When Kavanaugh, invoking the rule inspired by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, tried to argue that previous Supreme Court nominees have established a precedent for not opining on specific cases during their own confirmation hearings, Harris pressed him further.

"You also, I'm sure, know Justice Ginsburg said at her confirmation, on the topic of Roe: 'This is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity; it's a decision she should make for herself. And when the government makes that decision for her, she's being treated as something less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices,'" Harris quoted. "Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg?"

Harris appeared to make Kavanaugh squirm a bit, but she didn't manage to eke out an explicit answer from him either: “I have not articulated a position on that," Kavanaugh told her.

Kavanaugh will likely continue to skirt any other questions about Roe v. Wade, but his track record as a federal judge on the DC circuit, as well as—as of Thursday morning—leaked emails obtained by the New York Times opining on the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision tell pro-choice advocates all they need to know.

In an email Kavanaugh wrote in March 2003, when he served as a an attorney to the George W. Bush White House, Kavanaugh advised against referring to Roe v. Wade as "settled law"—a line he's stuck to since earning President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nomination.

"I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent," Kavanaugh wrote at the time, "and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”

"Now we know exactly why Republicans are hiding his records," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement on Thursday. “Brett Kavanaugh’s emails are rock solid evidence that he has been hiding his true beliefs and if he is given a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, he will gut Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and punish women.

"Any senator who claims to care about women and our reproductive freedom should need no further evidence to publicly oppose this nomination," she continued. "Because now no further proof is needed to know that a vote to confirm Kavanaugh is a vote to end Roe.”